The construction and testing of a production car is an extremely complex process. However, some cars, like the new supercar by Bugatti, need more attention and time than others. Construction of the Bugatti Chiron has officially commenced in Bugatti’s factory at Molsheim, and the carmaker has lifted the curtain to reveal to the whole world the process involved in assembling 1,800 separate parts to make one extremely expensive car.
The process of production begins, as one would expect, with the client explaining in detail the final specs of their car. Prospective owners sit down with a consultant from the carmaker and go through the whole range of available options, selecting from eight individual weaves of carbon fiber and a vast range of standard paints for the car’s exterior—and then moving to its interior.
Here is some friendly advice: if you are poor at making decisions, do not try to design the Chiron’s cabin. Besides making a choice between eight hues of suede and thirty-one different kinds of leather, you can also choose from a bewildering array of seat belt, stitching, and carpet options. And if that does not make you feel dizzy, the Le Maison Pur Sang team is capable of bringing to life the most elaborate fancies of a car owner using interior trims, customized paint finishes, and option packages.
When the client has made their final choices and signed off, the car is assigned a production slot and an order for the parts is made. This kicks-off a process that normally takes 8 months. Prior to all the extra parts arriving, the assembly of the naked bodyshell is done, and it is then taken to the paint shop. Here it is lavished with around eight coats of paint, every layer being applied manually. Afterwards, it is sanded and polished before the next one is laid on. On the other hand, cars with pure carbon fiber on the exterior undergo a different process that is equally time-consuming.
In contrast to the majority of car factories, Bugatti’s Molsheim facility is not equipped with robots or conveyor belts. The whole process of production is done by hand throughout 12 different stations. Each station handles a small portion of the overall building of the car. Station number one receives the W16 quad-turbo engine, which is delivered in a pre-assembled state from VW’s Salzgitter factory. It is then prepared for insertion into the car’s chassis before being installed in the second station.
Because of its phenomenal power (1500 hp or 1119 kW) and torque (1600 Newton meters), the Chiron’s engine cannot simply be lowered into the back and secured into place like the majority of other cars. The entire rear end is effectively constructed around the engine. The front end and the base monocoque are connected and then the wiring looms are joined up. At about the same time that this is happening, the pipes linking the front radiators and the engine are hooked up.
After connecting the monocoque with the rear end, a process that only requires 14 bolts made of titanium, the wheels are attached and the Chiron rolls on to the next station. Here all the fluids are poured into the car, and the engine is switched on for the very first time. Even though Bugatti had already constructed a special dynamometer for testing the Veyron, it could not cope with the torque and power generated by Chiron’s overhauled W16 engine.The team was therefore forced to rebuild it wholly. The outcome of this is the most powerful dyno on the planet. It has been installed in an entire room on its own. The dyno can go up to 124 miles per hour(200 kilometers per hour) with the car accelerating full pelt while an engineer is behind the wheel. In total, the tests take about 3 hours, and entail checking the connection between the gearbox and the engine, clutch, airflow meter and electronic aids
When it has successfully undergone through all the tests in the rolling dynamometer, the car is eventually fitted with the required exterior panels. Because of the thinness of the carbon panels, they first go through a pre-assembly stage and here they are installed by technicians and checked for cosmetic or structural damage. The entire process is designed to closely resemble a real car, and there are even the same points of mounting. In addition, the pre-assembly area is lit in a way that purposely matches the real factory.
Despite this comprehensive preparation, it may take from two to three days for installation and adjustment of the panels. This is done in a manner that meets the stringent tolerances set by Bugatti. When they are finally in the right place, the car is taken through a half hour monsoon test to ensure there are no leakages. After this test is done successfully, the interior is installed and the ultimate real-life shakedown begins.
Naturally as you might expect, no owner would be happy if they received their brand new Bugatti with grimy wheels and chipped paint due to the final shakedown. Consequently, the Bugatti engineers in the Molsheim factory switch the underbody and final wheels and install a normal factory set. They then spend a whole day covering the exterior of the car with protective foil. The Chiron is then driven 186 miles (300 kilometers) to an airport where it is tested and driven at speeds of over 155 miles per hour (250 km/h) on the airport’s runway. The drive back home is done on the autobahn and then a change of transmission oil is carried out. Afterwards the car is taken through an additional 31 mile drive before giving it the all-clear.
After completing the requisite performance tests, the foil wrap is taken off and the Bugatti Chiron is cleaned and polished. Following two days of thorough paint preparation, the car is taken to a specialized light tunnel where the top coat is inspected by a specialist. Any blemishes are marked out and polished off by a paint shop. After being approved by the manager of the paint shop, the head of sales inspects the car before giving managerial approval. The head of sales then makes arrangements for an occasion to hand over the car to the customer.
If you think that all of this is overkill, remember that each Bugatti Chiron goes for a minimum of US$2,612,000-and this does not include options. The buyers of these cars expect nothing less than perfection and this is exactly what Bugatti has built its reputation on.
Now we have learned how they do it.